The truth about vaccinations: Your physician knows more than the University of Google

“A cousin of my mom’s survived Polio and lived the rest of his life with its effects. He was not expected to live past his teens but made it to his 40s. I am grateful that modern science can protect us from Polio and other diseases and I choose to take advantage of modern science to give my kid better odds of not dying from a preventable disease. I had heard a lot of noise from people claiming vaccines caused Autism, but never saw any clear evidence. It just seemed to me like people really wanted to point to something as the cause and they latched onto vaccines.”–Jennifer

I have been getting into a lot of discussions about whether vaccines are safe in the last few days. I’m not sure if it’s because of a post going viral about a (terrible) Italian court ruling last year (In contrast, American courts side with doctors and scientists on vaccine safety) or Jenny McCarthy’s recent hiring as co-host on “The View”, or simply (as a friend suggested to me today) the fact that a new school year is starting soon and parents are having to provide vaccination records to schools.

“(I got my children vaccinated) because the science supports it and I don’t want my kids to die. And civic reasons. It’s so straightforward.”–Britta

Whatever the reason, this week I’ve been in many conversations with individuals staunchly against vaccinations, parents who are very upset at the idea of unvaccinated children putting their own kids at risk, and parents who are confused and worried and want to know how to make the best decision possible for their children’s safety. I’m writing this for the third group of parents.

What’s going on?
There has been a very steep decrease in the rate of vaccinations recently, particularly (but I want to stress not only) within communities of affluent, well-educated parents. [UPDATE: Keep in mind that there’s considerable diversity among anti-vaccine proponents. A conservative religious community here in Texas, opposed to vaccines because “faith should be enough”, is currently experiencing an outbreak of measles].

“It’s that whole natural, BPA-free, hybrid car community that says ‘we’re not going to put chemicals in our children,’” Shapiro told Salon. “It’s that same idea: ‘I’m going to be pure and I want to keep my child pure.’”

California law mandates that all students get vaccinated, but it also makes it easy to get exemptions for personal beliefs. And parents in tony places like Marin County are taking advantage of it in seemingly growing numbers. One public elementary school in Malibu, an affluent beach town just north of Los Angeles, reported that only 58 percent of their students are immunized — well below the recommended 90-plus percent level — according to Shapiro.

And it’s even worse in some of L.A.’s private schools, where as few as 20 percent of kids are vaccinated in some schools. “Yes, that’s right: Parents are willingly paying up to $25,000 a year to schools at which fewer than 1 in 5 kindergartners has been immunized against the pathogens causing such life-threatening illnesses as measles, polio, meningitis and pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough),” she wrote. –from (Emphasis mine)

This is particularly frustrating when there is overwhelming evidence that vaccinations DO NOT cause autism. As the wonderful blog Science Based Medicine puts it:

“At this point, the evidence is so utterly overwhelming that there is not a whiff of a hint of a whisper of a correlation between vaccines and autism that it has become irritating that antivaccine activists keep pressuring scientists to do the same study over and over again, coming up with the same results over and over again, and then seeing antivaccinationists fail to believe those same results over and over again. Apparently, antivaccine activists think that if the same sorts of studies are done enough times, there will be a positive result implicating vaccines as a risk factor for or contributing cause to autism.”

Why are parents choosing not to vaccinate their children?
I think there are several reasons, but they all may have some connection to misunderstanding of what the scientific evidence on this issue is, or resistance to perceived authority. In Western cultures, we’re accustomed to framing every public issue as two-sided. People who refuse to acknowledge that there’s legitimacy to the other side are “unfair.” I think this viewpoint is really muddling the vaccine safety conversation. When the media presents scientists on one side, and Natural News on the other, it’s creating a false equivalency. The anti-vaxxers have no credible scientific evidence supporting their position, but placing them opposite a scientist makes it seem like there are two legitimate sides to this debate. There aren’t. The simple fact is that there’s overwhelming scientific consensus that the MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism.

“I unapolagetically vaccinate my kid, and it’s not just because that’s what you do, it’s because I really looked at what the science said and made a decision based on facts, evidence, and rational weighing of risk-benefit. I think the problem is that it’s easier to feel off the hook for risking your kids via inaction rather than action. But realistically, the risks of vaccination are so much less than the risks of what could happen if your child does get a vaccine-preventable disease, and you are also protecting those who *can’t* be vaccinated. That’s why I get a flu shot. Not because I am going to die of the flu, but to protect the elderly, infants, and immunocompromised folks I might come into contact with.” –Melissa (emphasis mine)

Do vaccines work?

Yes. Here are some of the diseases prevented with vaccinations:


from “Demographics of Unvaccinated Chidren”, National Network for Immunization Information.

Do vaccines cause autism?

No. As a starting point for you, here’s a roundup of trustworthy scientific resources for you to read on your own (everything is peer-reviewed, or contains links to peer-reviewed articles):

Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism

Vaccine Safety studies (a bunch of studies, with notes about what they mean):

Concerns about vaccine safety (this is really great, and written in layman’s language)

How do we know that scientists and doctors are right?

I’ve been asked about this quite a bit lately. One person asked me “why aren’t we getting peered reviewed research from other points of view?” The reason is quite simple: there isn’t any.

Scientific research works like this:
You start with the specific questions “Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?”, “Does the MMR vaccine increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease?” and so forth. You then design a study to test that question. It’s not starting from one “side” or the other, trying to seek proof for it. That’s the way politics works, not science. When you get an answer, it’s either “yes” or “no” (actually it tends to be “there is a statistically significant association between this drug and this disease” or “there is NOT a statistically significant association between this drug and this disease.”) Your results are submitted to experts for peer review. These experts then go over your results and methods with a fine-toothed comb, trying to find weaknesses in your approach, or over-interpretation of the results. They evaluate your statistics to make sure that they’re correct. If they decide that it’s acceptable (and this is usually a very hard test to pass), your paper gets published and is considered “peer-reviewed.” But that’s not the end.

Studies are then done by other research groups to both test and build upon your results. While the initial screen by peer reviewers is very stringent, it doesn’t always catch mistakes, and can miss identifying faked data (for example, Andrew Wakefield’s paper got past peer review because the reviewers didn’t catch that his data were fraudulent). However, all scientific research is iterative–that is, it builds upon a foundation created by other research. So if your results are wrong, or faked, it will quickly become obvious to other researchers who try to replicate or use them. Scientific consensus is VERY hard to achieve. So when it happens, pay attention.

Why do I (and others) keep harping on “peer-reviewed” studies? Why do I (and others) refuse to acknowledge the truth of what X blogger says?

Science operates based on the philosophy that the truth is knowable if we design experiments correctly, and we do enough of them to rigorously test our hypotheses. And I hope that you know by now that anyone with a keyboard can make stuff up. Peer review is how we test that someone isn’t making things up. Experts in your field have to agree with your conclusions.

But what about Andrew Wakefield’s research?

“I got my son vaccinated after doing research about it. I had been going through birthing classes that were against it, but the scientist in me questioned what they were saying. I found the info about the falsified info about autism. I still couldn’t believe (and still can’t) that parents would hold chicken pox parties. I’d had chicken pox as a kid, and I know about shingles. It just made sense to me.”–Charity

Andrew Wakefield faked his data for profit. His medical license has been revoked as a consequence. It’s important that people know that the the link between vaccines/autism is based on an outright lie–most of the other authors on the paper have removed their names from it. You can read more about this story here:

What are the consequences of not vaccinating your children?

“We chose to vaccinate Vera on a regular schedule, and to be honest I did not do extensive research. I read enough to know that the studies showing an autism link were bad science and I found a pediatrician I really trusted and talked to her about it. I also really do believe that those of us with healthy kids should vaccinate to protect children who have compromised immune systems.”–Faye

Harm to your child:

Penn and Teller illustrate this beautifully (if profanely: language NSFW)

To put it simply, your child is at risk of contracting a preventable disease.

Image from
Many of us (myself included) don’t remember polio epidemics. This was the treatment. Image from

What happens in the absence of our vaccination program? Read about it here:

Harm to other children:

“Unvaccinated children are concentrated in particular states, increasing the risk of transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases to other unvaccinated children, undervaccinated children and fully vaccinated children.”

One person with whom I was discussing this issue (he has not vaccinated his kids, but does homeschool them) put forth a hypothesis:

“but if you are correct, i guess in the near future the progressive states will have noticeable outbreaks (and not just the ones you read about), ones that touch somebody you know, as more and more hippy parents stop vaccinating their kids. stay clear of the pacific northwest or perish. ahaha. nah, we are growing super strong natural kids for the future here, and not ones reliant on medicines from a lab. we are sprouting wings and soon we shall fly to furthest regions of the universe and beyond”

I agree with that hypothesis. Unlike the rest of his comment, it’s quite scientific. IF vaccines are protective, and IF parents are choosing not to vaccinate, we should be seeing outbreaks of those diseases in states where the rate of non-vaccination is highest.

This is indeed the case. Here are two examples:

Incidents of whooping cough (pertussis) are significantly higher in states that easily allow parents exceptions from the vaccination. In Washington state alone, there was a 1,300% increase in cases.
Have you ever taken care of a child with pertussis? I have. This is what it’s like (warning: video of children in pain):

And cases of measles infection in the United States have already doubled since last year.

That’s just the beginning. This post is already too long, but I urge you to go to the CDC’s website and read about recent outbreaks. They are tied to regions where vaccine rates are low.

Final thoughts

Googling and listening to what people tell you over on parenting message boards, “Natural News”, and similar sites is not the same thing as advice from a trained physician. I really believe that the vast majority of parents who are leery of vaccinating their kids are simply confused because they’ve been given bad information.

“We live in a society, and our actions have consequences for others. It’s our responsibility to protect our children and our neighbors’ children. Plus our ancestors could only have dreamed of something that would protect their children from these horrible diseases.”–Mary

Vaccination is not just to protect your own child. It’s also a moral and civic issue. Remember that we are incredibly privileged in our society to have access to vaccines. In many places around the world, people don’t have easy access to them, and there are even some places where aid workers are killed for trying to administer vaccines. Our privilege confers responsibility as well. By vaccinating your children, you are also protecting other children (and adults) who can’t be vaccinated. Here is a really great explanation of this, and the concept of herd immunity.

“I chose to have my first child vaccinated because I paid some attention in science classes and it works. I paid better attention in history classes and have a sense of the suffering various preventable diseases have caused in the past and I didn’t want that for my child. After my first born spent a week in the hospital with an infection, I feel much more strongly about having my second child vaccinated. In that case, it wasn’t something that could have been vaccinated against, but there is no reason and no excuse for subjecting your child to the risk of that kind of suffering over a preventable disease. It’s irresponsible and cruel.”–Eric

Wakefield, McCarthy, Kennedy and other leaders of the movement are deceiving you. They bear responsibility for the deaths of children. That’s why I keep speaking out on this issue.

I hope that I’ve provided you with a starting point from which to do your own research. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me here, or on twitter, or by email (link at the top of this page), or–even better–ask your physician!

UPDATE: I wrote a tutorial/example of how to critically read a vaccine safety study here. If you wish to do your own research, I suggest that reading the primary, peer-reviewed literature is a vastly better approach than relying on books/Facebook memes/discussion forums. Hopefully the tools you’ll find in that post (and this one) will be helpful.


Edited to remove Lyme disease from list of vaccine preventable illnesses. There’s a vaccine currently in clinical trials, but it’s not fully tested or available yet. Thanks to “justreadingyourblog” for pointing that out to me.

2,204 thoughts on “The truth about vaccinations: Your physician knows more than the University of Google

  1. Andrew James August 20, 2013 / 8:11 am

    Excellent coverage of the topic.
    Vaccination saves lives and protects people.
    The scientific method works / trust in science and do the right thing – vaccinate our kids.

    • Doug August 20, 2013 / 11:03 pm


  2. Richardson Mcphillips August 20, 2013 / 8:55 am

    I like with your post. I think that many of the comments here indicate the basis of another post you could write, addressing the issues of state authority and big pharmacy. The HPV vaccine might work, but when a state basically gives Merck a blank cheque to vaccinate all the girls in that state, there are issues other than the science that add to the atmosphere of suspicion.

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 8:58 am

      Thank you. It was definitely intended to be limited to the MMR-autism link when I wrote it, and I certainly see the need to do a follow-up post addressing some of the additional issues that others have raised.

    • sonnychild August 20, 2013 / 7:49 pm

      I’m no fan of big pharma, not by any means. But that said, I don’t see how vaccinating all girls (who don’t have contraindications to vaccines) against a virus that has the potential to cause cervical cancer is a bad thing. It’s the same thing as vaccinating ALL ELIGIBLE children against other diseases, as outlined in this article. I recognize that HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, and that therefore girls who aren’t sexually active have no risk of getting the disease, BUT, unfortunately we live in a world where sexual molestation isn’t unheard of. Furthermore, as boys aren’t given the vaccine, they can easily act as a vector to transmit the virus to a girl who hasn’t had the vaccine prior to becoming sexually active. So again, no, I don’t think Merck should have a patent on the vaccine and I think that it should be more accessible (less costly) to more people, but hey… so long as we’re preventing disease, I don’t see the issue. Just my thought.

      • Carolyn August 21, 2013 / 1:46 am

        HPV can be transmitted from a mother to infant at birth…not just a sexually transmitted disease.

      • Anonymous August 21, 2013 / 2:31 am

        some boys have started getting the vaccination against the cervical cancer causing virus which is good

  3. Anonymous August 20, 2013 / 9:29 am

    Love, love, love your post. I am a pediatrician so this topic is so very near and dear to my heart. It is great to see it written out in such a concise and logical way. Thank you!

  4. Scott Nelson August 20, 2013 / 9:33 am

    People you don’t want to put “chemicals” into their children should most certainly refrain from administering polyamino acids, polyols, esterified fatty acids, cyanocobalamin, (3β,5Z,7E)-9,10-secocholesta-5,7,10(19)-trien-3-ol, (2E,4E,6E,8E)-3,7-Dimethyl-9-(2,6,6-trimethyl-1-cyclohexen-1-yl)-2,4,6,8-nonatetraen-1-ol , and the most toxic chemical of all-dihydrogen monoxide. These are also known as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, B12, vitamin A, and water. We are made of chemicals, all our food is chemicals, and we do not exist if there are no chemicals. They are not to be feared, they are what we are. Our bodies deal with millions of antigens everyday, adding in the few that can cause us disease does nothing but increase our fitness.

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 9:34 am

      The naturalistic fallacy! I could write an entire separate post on that.

    • sonnychild August 20, 2013 / 7:50 pm

      Few things drive me as crazy as when people don’t want “chemicals” in their body, yet have no concept of what a chemical is, AND then go home and use a host of products that are made of non-naturally occurring chemicals.

  5. Jessica August 20, 2013 / 9:38 am

    This is an interesting article, albeit extremely one-sided (I believe you touched on that.) I feel like you left out a few things that are necessary, information that really should be in an article as deeply opinionated as this one. First, the statement that there are no credible studies supporting relationships between vaccines and autism or chronic illnesses is false. I believe the number of publishes studies is somewhere between 70 and 80 currently. Second, the fear tactic you used to scare parents into vaccinating for pertussis is irrelevant. The CDC website states that the decrease in vaccinations is not the driving force behind the rise in pertussis cases, but instead the mutation of the virus, making the vaccination less effective. You also failed to mention the 2.5 billion dollars paid by the government through the Vaccination Injury Compensation Program to more than 1,300 people who were proven to have been injured by vaccinations over the past 20 years, with half of those cases pertaining to brain damage. Does that number sound low? It is, because only about 20% of adverse reactions to vaccines are ever even reported, partially because the majority of doctors are very quick to reassure everyone that those reactions could not have possibly been related to the vaccines. Those studies that have “been done over and over again” have never actually been done; I’m talking about the studies showing comparisons between fully vaccinated children to completely unvaccinated children. Of course, that might not yield any trustworthy results, either. It’s common knowledge that children born to mothers who had the flu are more likely to go on to have autism. What a beautifully packaged way to pin it on mom. Of course, no one mentions that the reaction of the mother’s body when she has the flu is identical to the reaction it has when she receives a flu vaccine. In a nutshell, I’m saying that there is both reliable and unreliable information on both sides of this argument. Why don’t we stop trying to make each other sound uneducated and start working together to create a vaccine program that truly is safe? Why do we have to constantly try to preserve the health of one child while compromising the health of another? It’s time for everyone to swallow their pride and figure out a way to work together to keep all of our children as safe as possible.

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 9:41 am

      But what are these 70-80 studies? Can you please provide them to us? “Common knowledge” just doesn’t cut it when you’re talking about people’s lives. We need to read the actual data.

      • Jessica August 20, 2013 / 9:55 am

        I understand that. This is a link to a list a fellow blogger has been putting together. I have not had the time to study each of these in depth, but there are links to the abstracts on their publications.

        I’ll also include the links to the articles I’ve read concerning flu vaccines and pregnant mothers.

        I’ll add this in an attempt to level the playing field. I am on the fence on the issue. I do vaccinate my children. However, I also have a daughter with autism and a 9-month-old who had spasms for three days after her 4 month shots. I don’t yet know if that had any effect on her brain. I think parents have good reason to question these vaccinations, and I think it’s unfair to try to make them feel guilty for trying to make the best decisions for their families.

      • Melody August 20, 2013 / 4:58 pm

        Jessica-I think it is a little strange that you can say SO adamantly that there is so much research backing up the link between vaccines and autism, but you haven’t even looked into any of the studies nor can you provide a single link to an actual research study. That seems like a pretty weak rebuttal to me. I understand you are just trying to “level the playing field” but it seems worse to continue to muddy the waters with blogs and articles instead of comparing the cold, hard facts.

      • T West August 20, 2013 / 7:46 pm

        100% agree, Jessica!!

    • Laura August 20, 2013 / 10:02 am

      In response to your points, no there truly have not been any *credible* studies showing a link. None. Those that are so often quoted are full of methodological errors and incorrect interpretations. In fact, many well-written articles and news stories cite other articles that as evidence against vaccines, but when you follow the trail and read what is being cited, it is generally either an editorial comment or an article about a tangential link between two things that are mostly unrelated to vaccines. Often these articles are about mechanisms and consequences of inflammation and have no link to or mention of vaccines. To track down actual science here is impossible. Next, I think perhaps you’re misinterpreting or at least shortening the stance on the pertussis vaccine. While vaccines often do not protect against any and all strains of a disease, they do prevent much of it and often given partial protection against the new mutant strains that arise. Third, the fact that the government has established a fund to pay people who claim to have been injured by vaccines is no proof that injury happened because of the vaccine. Look into it. To claim this money does not require strict proof. Next, your point about mothers with flu is just completely in error. No, the body’s reaction to the flu vaccine is not, at all, the same as the reaction to the virus. That’s the point. Yes, people can have mild flu-like symptoms, but the vaccine does not cause low oxygen levels, sepsis, or death. No one is trying to make anyone else sound uneducated, just pointing out the error. The anti-vaccine movement has many eloquent speakers who are, unfortunately and with devastating results, able to propagate fear and misinformation either knowingly or unknowingly, and it takes argument from many knowledgeable people to try to counter this. I agree that we should continue to work on finding vaccines that are free from any possible side effects, but until we have those, the reasonable thing to do is to protect as many as we can.

    • Cindy August 20, 2013 / 10:07 am

      You are wrong. Period.

      • Melody August 20, 2013 / 4:54 pm

        I would appreciate hearing more on why you think that. What facts, research or experience do you have to support your assertion? Just saying “You are wrong” seems like a pretty unsatisfactory reply to a well written, well support article.

      • Markus August 20, 2013 / 10:27 pm

        Thank you for saying what I was thinking Cindy.

    • Scott Nelson August 20, 2013 / 10:16 am

      Nobody ever said that vaccines had 0 risk. What vaccines do is dramatically reduce your risk of dying or being incapacitated by a given disease. The Vaccine Compensation Board was set up because some people do have an adverse reaction to a vaccine, however, there is no “I’m an idiot and didn’t get vaccinated and died or was disabled compensation board” for all the people who died or were disabled by preventable diseases, since we don’t compensate people (usually) for their own stupidity-but if we did, that would be the appropriate comparison group. Many people were injured or died from polio (CDC estimate 16,316/yr pre-vaccine). That number is now 0. When is the last time you saw somebody living out their life in an iron lung, or walking with leg braces (think FDR)? That decrease is due to vaccines. Ditto Rubella (German Measles), which went from 47,745 to 4 cases (2010). Ever hear of anybody dying from Lockjaw? That’s because we vaccinate against now.

      Nothing in life is risk free. You take a risk when you wake up in the morning, take an aspirin for a headache, cross a street, eat or drink anything (you could choke to death!). Vaccines are about risk mitigation, and the cost-benefit ratio lies strongly with the vaccines.

      • Jessica August 20, 2013 / 10:31 am

        I agree with many of the points you all have made. Remember, I do vaccinate. However, everyone admits that “nothing is without risk,” and that vaccines are about “mitigating” risks. Most people agree that there are people who should not be vaccinated for health reasons. What I’m saying is that there is a strong possibility that there are more health reasons for which people should not be vaccinated than what is generally acknowledged.

        And this is a very good example of what I’m talking about. “You are wrong. Period.” Really? Very well thought out and convincing argument.

        What we are doing when we talk about protecting “the most people” is telling people whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of vaccines that their lives are less important than the lives of those who have suffered these diseases that are often, but are not always, prevented by vaccines.

        I’ll reiterate what I said before. I believe that there is a way to protect against these diseases without compromising the health of people who may have metabolic deficiencies, genetic predispositions or other factors that make them more susceptible to adverse reactions, and that we have failed to seek it out because of our attitudes that we, and only we, could possibly be right about the issue.

        • Scott Nelson August 20, 2013 / 11:37 am

          I don’t disagree that there are some people who should not be vaccinated. People with known immunodeficiencies (eg ADA (Bubble boy) or transplant patients) or hypersensitivities to vaccine components most certainly shouldn’t be immunized, however, the rest of need to be vaccinated to protect them from preventable diseases. If you can figure out an algorithm as to which people WILL (not might) have adverse reactions, the medical community will embrace you with open arms. However, right now we can’t predict which very small fraction of the population will have an adverse reaction to a vaccine-but we can readily identify the large segment at high risk -it’s those who have not been vaccinated

      • Amy August 20, 2013 / 12:03 pm

        “Nothing in life is risk free. You take a risk when you wake up in the morning, take an aspirin for a headache, cross a street, eat or drink anything (you could choke to death!). Vaccines are about risk mitigation, and the cost-benefit ratio lies strongly with the vaccines.”

        To me this sums it up. Every so often, you hear of someone dying in a car accident who had a fatal injury that could have been lessened or prevented if they actually had NOT been wearing a seatbelt or if the airbag had NOT gone off. However, the evidence is overwhelming that these two things have drastically reduced the risk of injury and death in car accidents. As you said, vaccines are not without risk. However, it is about risk mitigation and the cost-benefit ratio.

        I have a long history as an ICU nurse and have seen far too many women die horrible and painful deaths from cervical cancer…a cancer that is now largely preventable with the HPV vaccine. Isn’t this what we have been waiting for? Essentially, it is a cancer vaccine for most cervical cancers!!! However, because the virus is sexually transmitted, we thumb our noses at it. (I wonder how we would react if breast cancer was related to a virus and we found a vaccine, but I digress).

        Now, I am a nurse practitioner who believes whole heartedly in the science behind immunizations. To me, the issue is black and white. However, as a provider, I have been forced to recognize that anti-vaxxers are really just parents that love their children and want what is best and they believe that not giving vaccines is the best thing to keep them safe. Getting mad at them doesn’t help me communicate the importance of vaccines or the quality science behind them. Yes, it is maddening when the mother of an asthmatic young child says that she doesn’t need the vaccines because she can protect her child that is already at increased risk due to his pulmonary compromise. It is next to impossible to sum up the years of microbiology and pathophysiology that I have studied in a 20 minute office visit and have this woman understand that she CAN’T protect her son…that is the point of the vaccines! But, as “Jessica” pointed out, the medical community and parents who vaccinate cannot effectively deal with the anti-vaccine movement by simply throwing up our hands in frustration or disgust for the lack of understanding how to differentiate between hard scientific evidence and hundreds of blogs full of anecdotal stories. We need to acknowledge their fears and acknowledge that we don’t know everything as providers, but point to the overwhelming body of evidence that points out the risk-benefit ratio.

        Soon, I fear, that the risk-benefit ratio will present itself very plainly as these PREVENTABLE diseases start to resurface in epidemic proportions and children suffer the consequences. I just pray that I can have my own children vaccinated in time prior to this coming to fruition.

        • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 12:05 pm

          “as a provider, I have been forced to recognize that anti-vaxxers are really just parents that love their children and want what is best and they believe that not giving vaccines is the best thing to keep them safe. Getting mad at them doesn’t help me communicate the importance of vaccines or the quality science behind them.”

          I agree with this 100%.

    • Jason A August 20, 2013 / 10:33 am

      The post is one sided because there’s only one legitimate side to this conversation, as eloquently stated in the post. This part is worth shouting from the rooftops: ANY STUDY LINKING AUTISM TO VACCINES IS BOGUS. Full stop. There is NO credible or reliable data to indicate otherwise. Where are these 70-80 legitimate, peer-reviewed studies in credible medical journals? They don’t exist.

      This topic is near and dear to my heart. I have an autistic 6 year old. When he was a baby my well-meaning mother-in-law put on a full court press to convince us not to vaccinate him based on all the pseudoscientific crap on the internet, all of which had already been thoroughly debunked. We vaccinated him anyway for all the reasons stated in this post, just as we did our three other (non-autistic) children. Having an autistic child is hard. Knowing family members believe you caused it – by making the responsible, correct choice to have your child vaccinated – just twists the knife in that wound.

      I don’t know what causes autism. All the legitimate scientific evidence says that vaccines do not. I would much rather have the dedicated, competent, credible medical community research ways to treat and prevent the condition rather than waste time trying to prove things to the tin-foil hat crowd who already have their minds made up that vaccines cause autism, despite all evidence to the contrary.

      • Shane (@srhudnall) August 20, 2013 / 3:04 pm

        I think the other point to make is that there are several vaccines that scientists attempt to produce that do NOT work and don’t pass the rigorous study process. I think people fail to recognize that when they use the pharma conspiracy theory.

    • Marni August 20, 2013 / 12:05 pm

      Well, I have my grandmother’s family Bible which has pages on births and deaths. In the “pre-vaccination” period in the late 1800s, even well fed carefully nourished and loved children died of communicable diseases. On the page in that Bible for deaths are the names of 3 of my grandmother’s siblings who died over a 3 week period — probably of diphtheria which is the D in the DPT and TDAP immunizations children get. And, until you get a general understanding of the differences between a bacterial infection, like pertussis (whooping cough), and a viral infection, like rubella (measles), you should probably limit your public challenges on vaccination issues.

      In addition, one should be very careful about the issues of correlation and causation. Most children who are diagnosed as having autism are toddlers and preschoolers; most children who are first vaccinated against communicable diseases are toddlers. That means that most children who are diagnosed with autism will have been vaccinated within the previous year or so. However, I think I can prove that almost all crimes are committed within 24 hours of consuming something that has water in it. There would be a very high level of correlation; however, I doubt you would be willing to claim that consuming water causes crimes. There is a difference between correlation and causation and that’s one of the things that a well designed study addresses and which the reports on the study will answer.

    • Sylvia August 20, 2013 / 3:03 pm

      Thank you for posting this response . I can’t agree with you more . They have changed the time schedule of the vaccines to such an early age . Then adding more vaccines per visits then combining them into just one shot . It’s too much for some children . The schedule they have right now its quite ridiculous . I’m choosing to delay my sons vaccines until he is older and even then it will only be one at a time . .

    • Anonymous August 20, 2013 / 6:17 pm

      U r nuts!

    • Miranda August 20, 2013 / 7:23 pm

      I’m a L&D/post partum nurse and we don’t vaccinate mothers while pregnant, we wait until the post partum period. Just food for thought.

      • Michelle August 20, 2013 / 9:42 pm

        Actually, (I am an OB/Gyn) the CDC and ACOG (who publishes the practice guidelines for American OB/Gyns) recommend that we vaccinate all pregnant women with inactivated vaccines (namely IM influenza vaccine and the Tdap vaccine). The only ones we delay until postpartum are the live attenuated vaccines (such as MMR & Varicella).

      • Stephanie August 21, 2013 / 2:21 am

        I am a nurse practitioner student 3 months from graduation. (Woo-hoo!) I was vaccinated with IM influenza when I was pregnant. My child is perfectly fine. As the OB/Gyn stated, ACOG recommends ALL pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine, preferably between 27-36 weeks to maximize maternal antibody transfer to the infant.

    • Anonymous August 20, 2013 / 10:12 pm

      Thank you Jessica for being the voice of those in the middle.

    • Diann A August 20, 2013 / 11:51 pm

      Thank you!
      Especially for the comment calling out the “scare tactics” as well as your statement that parents questioning & trying to educate themselves should feel badly for their concerns.
      So many just “go with the flow” and never question any of it, so we should applaud the parents who care enough to take the time to question and educate themselves and then make a decision vs it being made for them, basically. Lets all just be cattle, right? Just do it, because we say its safe. Don’t question us. It’s for the good of all.
      I’ve always wondered- is there ANY case of a child with autism that’s had zero vaccines?? I don’t know the answer to that, but I’d bet money on “no”.

    • Anonymous August 21, 2013 / 2:43 am

      Thank you

  6. Erwin Alber August 20, 2013 / 9:43 am

    There is no such thing as a “vaccine-preventable” disease just as there is no safe or effective vaccine. I used to believe in this vaccination nonsense as well until I found out that it is just a money-making and disease-promoting racket. Don’t believe it? Check out these disease mortality graphs based on official government statistics:

    If you believe in vaccination, you have been deceived, bamboozled, brainwashed, blinded by junk science, and probably screwed over by the medical-pharmaceutical mafia by allowing your child or children to be poisoned for profit.

    I invite you to check out the “blessings”of vaccination on my Facebook page “My child’s vaccine reaction”:

    The truth is that in developed countries vaccines now cause far more harm including deaths than the diseases they supposedly prevent, while in Third World countries vaccination programmes and diseases are equally disastrous.

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 7:42 pm

      “The truth is that in developed countries vaccines now cause far more harm including deaths than the diseases they supposedly prevent…”
      You have posted absolutely no scientific evidence to back this up, only a bunch of contextless graphs (which anyone can make), and a link to a FB fan page that restricts membership to people who agree with it.

      If your sources are so convincing, why can’t they stand the test of peer-review?

    • Jeff August 21, 2013 / 1:30 pm

      Perhaps these graphs should show the morbidity rate rather than the mortality rate. Also, is the “per 100,000” related to affected individuals or all of society? Clearly society has become better at preventing death from all ailments since the 1800s (thanks in large part to great achievements in science and medicine). The prevention of DEATH can be vaccine independent. If the charts were corrected to show the number of people infected by these particular ailments (ie morbidity rate), there would likely be a stronger correlation to the introduction of vaccines. Also, lets not forget, population density and mobility within and between countries has increased substantially since the introduction of these vaccines. I would not like to imagine what would have happened (or what will happen in the future due to our new-found distaste for vaccination) with infected individuals in such close proximity.

      • Anonymous August 21, 2013 / 1:53 pm

        It looks like the listed mortality rate must be per the entire population, not affected individuals (since these diseases are much more dangerous than 0.1% death rate) but the morbidity vs mortality point is still valid.

  7. Susabelle August 20, 2013 / 9:47 am

    Thank you. As a vaccinating parent, I am shocked by how many are not doing so. So much misinformation out there, and it is so easy to get to with the Internet.

  8. Jessica August 20, 2013 / 9:54 am

    I think many people tend to doubt doctors because doctors are wrong on some issues. For example, many doctors don’t support/encourage breastfeeding when it is proven over and over in scientific studies to be superior to formula, especially in the area of preventing diseases and illnesses in infants and children. In my opinion, if they are going to push vaccines, they need to push breastfeeding as well. For the record, I did both.

    • Julie August 20, 2013 / 10:18 am

      Amen! I was thinking this as I read this, as well. Doctors are trained and know a lot…but they aren’t omniscient. I blantantly disregarded some of the [poor] advice my pediatrician gave me on some things, but I trust her judgment on vaccinations. I could see how others might struggle with that cognitive dissonance, though!

      • Sara E-C August 20, 2013 / 1:27 pm

        Hi Matt,

        This is maybe because you’ve never been a breastfeeding mom (or if you’re the partner to one who has, you’ve been really lucky to have providers who WERE pro-breastfeeding and were also educated to troubleshoot when problems arise).

        But this is one of those places where what all of those authorities suggest is often NOT what doctors tell their patients (and in fact, women are often instructed to do things that will have detrimental effects on supply of breastmilk, or to do things like supplement or introduce food before the recommended 6 months.) There’s a lot of “lore” that is passed down from OBs and Pediatricians about breastfeeding that actually DOES go against what the recognized medical experts recommend – which is maybe a contributor to general mistrust on the part of parents, too.

        • Julie August 20, 2013 / 1:38 pm

          Thanks, Sara. This is exactly what I was getting at. My pediatrician (actually a family practice physician) wasn’t UNsupportive of breastfeeding, but simply doesn’t have the training and knowledge necessary to be fully supportive (which is why I sought help from an IBCLC). Doctors are human, too, and I am pretty confident that they have limitations in the time they have for research (they also have to actually see patients…and they have their own families!). So I don’t blame my family practice that they’re still passing out literature that encourages starting solid foods before 6 months of age (which I ignored), wait to introduce dairy until 12 months (also ignored, as the AAP has changed their rec) or dismissive of things they aren’t expert in (like a tongue-tie and how it might affect the breastfeeding relationship). This is why parents should listen to their doctors…AND do their own research from reputable sources to augment as needed.

      • Matt August 20, 2013 / 1:48 pm

        Good points. My wife and I have been fortunate to have a supportive pediatrician that is a huge proponent of breastfeeding. The hospital we delivered at had on-call lactation consultants available 24/7 to help get things started on the right foot.

        There are doctors who, for whatever reason, don’t take the time and effort necessary to stay abreast of the current medical literature and recommendations. When your doctor’s recommending something not supported by the CDC, AAP, AAFP, etc….its probably a good idea to find a new doctor or bring a stack of articles to drop on their desk at the next appointment.

        I guess my main point is that all the official groups (the same ones who work out the vaccine schedules and make the official recommendations) ARE supportive of breastfeeding.

  9. Christina August 20, 2013 / 9:56 am

    I don’t know when you’re planning on writing your follow-up article, but could you please link back to it on this article?

    Also, something to look at – Vitamin D deficiency (and therefore calcium deficiency) in pregnancy and childhood has been linked to autism. There are published and ongoing studies about it.

    And I just realized that the links I’m posting are proxies. Darn it… Well, there are many articles on the subject from many peer-reviewed journals. If you want me to send you copes, I am more than willing. I’m morally opposed to scientific paywalls and for-profit journals anyway, and a lot of people don’t have access to University-level databases.

    Also, there’s a great article I found about the the link between autism and high levels of heavy metals and some essential minerals and very low levels of calcium and copper. While it may not be a ’cause’ of autism initially, heavy metal toxicity has been linked to behavioral problems, so the manifestation of the disease of autism may be a side effect of a physiological imbalance that’s caused by something else (genetics? Lack of essential something?). Oddly, there have also been some studies suggesting that treatment with Vitamin D and/or Magnesium w/B6 has a positive effect on behavioral problems in autistic children.

    Good luck in your research!

  10. Thankful for your post August 20, 2013 / 10:08 am

    I used to be in that third group of parents that you are writing for. Thank you for a great post! I wish I had seen it when I was confused and looking for information about vaccines for my daughter. It seemed all I could find at the time were articles by antivaxxers and people who said nonvaxxers were stupid. I didn’t need to be called stupid (although I now admit that I was!) I just wanted information! Your post is a great starting point for people who have questions about vaccinations. My daughter is now current on her vaccinations and I know I made the right choice. By the way, CA has made it more difficult to use the exemption, in that soon a parent will be required to meet with a health professional before submitting the form for the exemption. I don’t know all the details as I am not exempting anymore!

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 10:12 am

      Oh my gosh, that’s good to hear! Thanks so much for that. I don’t believe that non-vaxxers are necessarily stupid. There’s so much misleading information out there that it’s easy to be confused, especially when you haven’t been specifically trained (10+ years of school) to read the primary scientific literature yourself.

  11. Jackie August 20, 2013 / 10:15 am

    It’s fine if you chose not to immunize, but if that’s your choice then keep your child out of public parks, eating facilities, schools and other public places. Why should other peoples children who are too young for certain vaccines suffer, or die because of your choices. The risk of side effects from immunizations is so minuscule, where the risks of not immunizing, puts not only that child, but everyone they come into contact at risk. There is always some big hype about what is best, but listen, I ate out of plastic, I got my shots, I played in mud and ate mud pies, I rode my bike without a helmet and I drank water from the hose. I got spanked when needed, we ate McDonalds when we felt like it, seat belts were an option, and I breasted my children in public. Guess what, I turned out ok!

    • Sara August 20, 2013 / 10:08 pm

      Why do you believe that an unvaccinated child is all of the sudden disease carrying and spreading individual? How can a disease be spread without ever contracting it in the first place? Do you ask all your children’s friends if they are vaccinated before they play together? Why is it ok for a child to die or be harmed from a vaccine because the risk is “so minuscule”? I’m sure the parents of that one child would disagree with your logic.

      • Kevin August 21, 2013 / 10:22 am


        Was is it ok for EVERY OTHER child and individual to take the risk just so your child can be safe? (or rather safe from a miniscule risk)

        You are relying on everyone else doing the work to protect you and your child. While you intend to do NOTHING to protect their children. Do you have any idea how selfish that argument sounds?

        Also people are carriers for all sorts of virus and they never get sick. However, they do pass that on to other individuals. Can you guarantee that your child has NEVER come in contact with a person with these viruses? Can you guarantee that your child will not pass along these very contagious viruses to other people who cannot be protected or have not been vaccinated? As you said you can’t check everyone. However, we can have the reasonable expectation that the other individual has taken the minimal steps to not pass on a highly contiguous and deadly virus.

        So yes you are free not to immunize your child. And I think schools, daycares and other facilities have the right to ask your kid not to attended or visit their facility.

      • Sara August 23, 2013 / 5:05 pm

        It is my resposibility to take care of MY child and provide safety and health for my child. These other children are not taking a risk for my child. It is my responsibilty to teach my child good health habits such as washing their hands, covering thier mouths when they cough, sneeze etc. It is also my resposibility to keep my child out of school or public places when they are sick. It is my responsibility to give and teach my child good nutrition. Will this keep them from ever getting sick? Of course not. Can you guaratee that your child doesn’t have a communicable disease or ever come in contact with one? Can you guarantee that the vaccines were effective in providing the desired immunity? Dr’s don’t routinley check titers for the vaccines so one would never know if they’ve obtained the desired immunity, unless they get the blood test. It is no ones resposibility to provide for my child except me, nor is it anybody’s right to force something on my child either. I’m just stating an opinion, you don’t know if I vaccinate or not, and you know what they say about assumptions.

        • Marni August 23, 2013 / 5:46 pm

          So, you accept full responsibility for your child’s health and well being. Are you independently wealthy? If so, then you don’t need health insurance for your child, right? Because, if you do rely on any kind of health insurance, especially if it’s group insurance through an employer, if your child gets permanently disabled by an illness, preventable with vaccines or otherwise, every member of the group will pay slightly higher premiums to cover the cost of your child’s care. If you don’t have insurance and your child gets critically ill or becomes permanently disabled from an illness, preventable or not, then I hope you don’t expect me and people like me who care about ALL of the children to sit at home and let her die because you can’t afford her care. We liberals out here are the ones who try to elect people to Congress and to state legislatures who will, among other things, use some of our tax money to assure that, if at all possible, no child ever dies a preventable death from illness (or anything else) if we can help it. So, I will be part of the system that helps pay for care you might be unable to afford. TANSTAAFFL — There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. No bit of professional health care is ever free. Even if the person providing the care doesn’t charge the recipient of the care a cent, somehow that person acquired (usually worked for) enough financial security to be in a position to provide care without charge to the patient. Someone pays. We recognize that EVERY form of intervention comes with risks, down to provision of food and water, but we strive to protect as many children as possible and we do it based on the best that science has to offer at a given time and place. It is an imperfect system, to be sure, but it’s what’s available right now.

          • plasmarules August 26, 2013 / 7:39 am

            Oh please, you elect people that appoint leaders in industry to heads of government regulatory agency positions. Let’s just look at Obama and agriculture shall we? Appoints ex-pesticide lobbyist Islam Siddiqui to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Appoints ex-Monsanto defender Elena Kagan to SCOTUS, appoints ex-Monsanto VP (Washington) to the position of Head of Food Safety at the FDA. Appoints ex-biotech governor of the year (Iowa) Tom Vilsack to the position of USDA Secretary. Thanks on behalf of the rest of the planet and humanity to you liberals (and the REPs too) for supporting all these corporatists, only 1% of Americans were smart enough to realize that a vote for Barry was the same as a vote for Rmoney and chose not to support the status quo, so please enjoy your genetically engineered Corn Flakes this morning with your devoid-of-all-nutrition, antiobiotic-riddled, hormone injected cow’s milk and keep on thinking you’re doing public health and the rest of the people around you a favor, ignorance abounds.

        • Kevin September 2, 2013 / 7:33 pm

          Sara…. So now Vaccines are not a risk. (a risk that others are taking)

          Yet, by the same token you won’t let your children take something that is not a risk to protect them.

          Do you see the flaw in that logic?
          It’s like saying you don’t want to wear a seat belt.

          Who’s responsibility was it when you caught the flu in the office? Yours for failing to wash your hands, or your fellow employee? Why couldn’t you protect yourself? Afterall you were there 24h a day 365 days a year. Can you guarantee that your copious hand wishing will protect you and everyone else? obviously not since you still got sick.

          and FYI you, your child or the guy down the street do not have to be sick to spread the virus. Many of these virus persist and spread without the carrier getting sick at all.

          Every SINGLE parent says they will and tries to prevent there child from getting sick by the methods you described. Every parent has done this for the past 100+ years.

          What I can guarantee is that Vaccines vastly reduces your chance of getting sick from these dangerous viruses. The numbers show this. While you can’t even guarantee that you washed your hands.

  12. Hannah August 20, 2013 / 11:02 am

    Hi there! Thanks so much for this article! I live in the DC/NOVA area, which is a mecca of natural living and no vaccination… which is why there is currently a TB outbreak at one of the local high schools. Yes, TB, that one we thought we got rid of. But hey, at least these children are organically ill.

    • Sara E-C August 20, 2013 / 11:17 am

      Um. TB hasn’t ever been a disease that we thought was eradicated (3.4 cases per 100,000 people in 2011 – a total of just over 10,000 reported cases), and it’s not one that we commonly immunize children against.

      The incidence in DC that you mention might be due to the fact that it’s a populous area with a highly transient population – lots of people coming in and/or returning from places with higher rates of infection.

      • Sara E-C August 20, 2013 / 11:19 am

        Ah, just for clarity’s sake – that’s 10,528 TB cases in the US in that year, per the CDC.

  13. Steve Scott August 20, 2013 / 11:10 am

    Good job, Jenny. I am SO proud of you.

    Nice little discussion here on the responses, too.

  14. Anna August 20, 2013 / 11:19 am

    Interesting post.
    It was mandatory for me to get vaccinated every year growing up because my mother was ill. If she got the flu and it turned into an pneumonia—she would die. Once I moved out as a teen, I stopped getting vaccinated. As a young healthy person with no children or parents at risk to protect, there is no need for being vaccinated, unless maybe you’re travelling or in some sort of unusual situation. Even [some] doctors will agree with this. I also just don’t want to inject myself with chemicals like formaldehyde on a regular basis…ick.

    The body is a very powerful organism. If you treat your body like a temple; if you cleanse it, energize it to be healthy—it will reward you with energy, strength, power, and protection. People seem to not recognize this. The whole system about getting vaccinated is based on fear which I dislike. Fear itself can create disease (emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically). If the government put as much money and effort into empowering the civilians with proper nutrition, health and wellness—vaccinations wouldn’t be a topic of concern.

    I’m not saying I’m for or against the vaccinating programs. Judgments aside, [“It’s that whole natural, BPA-free, hybrid car community that says we’re not going to put chemicals in our children,” Shapiro told Salon.] people are waking up. People want the truth. People don’t want to be bullied into something that has corporate money behind it.

    I also find it scary that we give animals vaccinations but, the vets will tell you—there are no studies that investigate the effects of the vaccines on the animals. Big pharm don’t care about studies, or lawsuits, or your pets.

    • Anonymous August 20, 2013 / 12:12 pm


    • Pittypat August 20, 2013 / 1:21 pm

      Oh, please. I’m sure polio can be prevented by good nutrition. *sarcasm* Parents today have NEVER seen outbreaks of these horrible diseases. Is there a risk to vaccines? Of course. Is there a BIGGER risk from the diseases they prevent? You bet. There are numerous studies that show people both over and under estimate risks. Otherwise no one would drive when they could fly! And by they way? Yep, austim parent here, too.

      • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 1:47 pm

        I’ve been exposed to rabies myself. Sure was glad that I’d been vaccinated then! I don’t trust that my good nutrition habits would have prevented me from contracting the disease.

    • Coriann August 20, 2013 / 2:43 pm

      Just so you know, your body actually makes formaldehyde. It’s a natural biproduct of the metabolic process and it makes more in a single day than what is present in a shot that you get once a year or once every ten years or once a lifetime. So you have it in your body, at all times and it’s natural.

      • Lauren August 21, 2013 / 5:23 pm

        THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SAYING THIS. If I have to hear one more person say they dont want to “put” formaldehyde in their bodies, I might just have to start throwing organic chemistry books at peoples non-educated heads.

    • Holly August 20, 2013 / 3:09 pm

      Just to add a little more regarding formaldehyde…
      the average American diet contains 20-30mg of formaldehyde in things like apples, carrots, pears, milk, water (both bottled and fresh water) as well as being in our cosmetics and other items throughout our home (i.e. tissues, napkins, furniture, clothing, etc…)

  15. Leslie August 20, 2013 / 11:19 am

    There is nothing wrong with giving fewer vaccines than recommended, fewer vaccines at a time than recommended, vaccines less frequently than recommended, starting later than recommended (like waiting until you’re done breastfeeding), vaccines with different preservatives/inactive ingredients… This is the stuff I’d want to see studies on, evidence proving or disproving. Why is the question do or don’t? Why not just do it differently?

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 12:01 pm

      Hi Leslie! I’ve been trying to find an answer to your question “Why not just do it differently?” in the medical literature, because it’s one that several people have asked about.

      With regard to alternative vaccine schedules, from what I’ve found so far there haven’t been any large-scale studies yet on their efficacy. I *think* that’s because they simply haven’t been in place long enough to do retrospective studies comparing the outcomes of kids on standard schedules to kids on alternative schedules. (Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong here).
      The problem with simply taking two groups of kids, vaccinating one group and not vaccinating the other, and then comparing the outcome is that this type of study would be considered unethical by any Human Subjects committee (which have to approve all human research), as it causes harm to the unvaccinated kids. So instead retrospective studies have to be done, on medical reports from kids whose parents refuse vaccination. And that takes time to see the outcome.

      I don’t know if you can access this article ( , or if it’s behind a paywall, so I’ll excerpt a few points from it (I’m addressing not just your question, but others’ as well here):

      “Children with nonmedical exemptions are at increased risk for acquiring and transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases.(34,35) In a retrospective cohort study based on nationwide surveillance data from 1985 through 1992, children with exemptions were 35 times as likely to contract measles as nonexempt children (relative risk, 35; 95% confidence interval [CI], 34 to 37).(34) In a retrospective cohort study in Colorado based on data for the years 1987 through 1998, children with exemptions, as compared with unvaccinated children, were 22 times as likely to have had measles (relative risk, 22.2; 95% CI, 15.9 to 31.1) and almost six times as likely to have had pertussis (relative risk, 5.9; 95% CI, 4.2 to 8.2).(35) Earlier data showed that lower incidences of measles and mumps were associated with the existence and enforcement of immunization requirements for school entry.(12,36-38)

      The consequences of delayed vaccination, as compared with vaccine refusal, have not been studied in detail. However, it is known that the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases and the risk of sequelae from vaccine-preventable diseases are not constant throughout childhood. Young children are often at increased risk for illness and death related to infectious diseases, and vaccine delays may leave them vulnerable at ages with a high risk of contracting several vaccine-preventable diseases. Moreover, novel vaccine schedules that recommend administering vaccines over a longer period may exacerbate health inequities, since parents with high socioeconomic status are more likely to make the extra visits required under the alternative schedules than parents with low socioeconomic status.(39)”
      [From: Omar et al. 2009 “Vaccine Refusal, Mandatory Immunization, and the Risks of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases” New England Journal of Medicine, 360:1981-1988]

    • cat August 20, 2013 / 12:21 pm

      I am with you there Leslie. I think parents need to take the reigns from physicians, know what’s in a vaccine, why it is being administered – the real risk for the disease for their locality and their lifestyle. Blindly administering all recommended vaccines can lead to brain and immune damage. It’s a lot for tiny bodies to handle. Parents – the onus is on you to be informed.

      • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 12:22 pm

        “Blindly administering all recommended vaccines can lead to brain and immune damage.” Your source for this?

      • One Blunt Mom August 20, 2013 / 3:20 pm

        “Blindly administering all recommended vaccines can lead to brain and immune damage.”

        That’s quite a serious charge you’ve made right there. I would also like to see some credible source for that information.

      • Diann A August 21, 2013 / 12:14 am

        Agree – thank you!

    • therealadrinux August 21, 2013 / 7:10 am

      I think by and large the schedule is simply logical. Take MMR, for measles at least, a baby is covered by the antibodies it gets from the mother for the first year. MMR is scheduled at 13 months – leaving it later would leave the child vulnerable to measles and at risk of hearing damage, brain damage and death.
      Why on earth would you want to leave it longer? Where is the hard evidence that waiting would provide any benefit?

      My 3rd child and 13th month old has had his first MMR already thankfully, but it’s still worrying that so many people choose not to vaccinate, since it leaves him at risk – even two MMR jabs don’t provide 100% of people with immunity, this is another reason why herd immunity is so important.

      There’s a serious ethical question to deliberately delaying vaccination in order to see whether it makes any difference, I’m not sure such studies would make it past the ethics boards that have veto.

  16. Martin August 20, 2013 / 11:42 am

    “Don’t believe anything you read on the internet.”
    -Thomas Jefferson.

    • Pittypat August 20, 2013 / 1:24 pm


  17. patsijean August 20, 2013 / 12:00 pm

    Well, I remember many of those epidemics before vaccinations! I am 69 and lived through the terrible panic that was polio (there was actually joy standing in line to get our first sugar cube vaccination) and I later made friends with people who had suffered that disease, and still suffer. I remember chicken pox, and small pox (eradicated because of vaccinations) , mumps that could cause sterility (both of my little brothers) , and measles, and the birth defects of babies born to mothers who caught rubella from their other children. I don’t know if people who are against vaccinating their children are delusional or stupid, but I do know that they did not have to live through the fear as we did.

  18. Anon August 20, 2013 / 12:08 pm

    Unfortunately, as a physical scientist, it is sad to see this anti-science, anti-logic, anti-sound reasoning attitude across so many fields of science (global warming, pedagogical research, psychology, etc.) and pervading so much of our society.
    Instead, it seems people listen too much to politicians, who create a false sense of “two sides” to the story, when the hard facts and scientific method clearly point otherwise. (Granted, there are some cases where the conclusions aren’t solid, but sadly, this is not the case in too many of these “arguments”). It’s refreshing to see posts, like yours here, that lay out everything in a clearly understandable manner which will (maybe, hopefully) help people see sense. Thank you.

  19. Anonymous August 20, 2013 / 12:43 pm

    I do not believe that there is a vaccination for TB.

    • Sara E-C August 20, 2013 / 1:09 pm

      Hi Anonymous. Yes, there is, it’s just not one that is on the common vaccine schedules. If you’re referring to Hannah’s comment above, you are indeed correct to refute her logic; but it’s not because there’s no vaccine, merely that it’s not something that people would typically have to refuse, since it’s not typically offered (hence the “natural folks are causing the outbreak!” hypothesis doesn’t make a lot of sense with respect to Tb).

      You can find out more information here:

    • Louis Pasteur August 20, 2013 / 9:30 pm

      There is a vaccine for TB called BCG (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin). It’s only used in countries where there is a high infection rate with TB. It only protects against the extra pulmonary manifestations of TB (kidneys, brain, spine, etc.) but does not prevent the infection with the lungs. It also wears off in a few years. It’s not used in the US because the infection rates of TB is much lower.

      • Diann A August 21, 2013 / 12:18 am

        Is there a high infectious rate of polio, measles, mumps, rubella, etc in the US? Is that why these are given routinely?
        Just wondering, considering your comments regarding TB

  20. Anna August 20, 2013 / 12:45 pm

    Here is one alternative article investigating more into the subject of vaccines. Worth the read and there are more articles on the site about the topic.

    Autism and Vaccines: The Truth Behind the Controversy

    “…autism was a rare event and happened maybe 1 in every 10,000 children. Today, autism is a worldwide pandemic. Presently, 1 in every 50 children is affected.”

    “Long before Andrew Wakefield came into the picture, Congress was paying out families whose children were injured or killed as a result of vaccination.”

    “Today, a fully vaccinated child receives 37 – 50 vaccines during the critical first years of life. These first years of life are especially important because the gut, which is deeply related to immune health, and the immune system are still in the process of being developed.”

    • therealadrinux August 21, 2013 / 7:16 am

      Yet another anti-vaccination post with absolutely no links to scientific research to back up the claims.

  21. Andrew August 20, 2013 / 12:47 pm

    Just a few points:

    Regardless of which side of the discussion you are aligned, you should agree that it is not governments role to force anything upon their citizens. The way to succeed in keeping people safe is through information and training. Any country based on the fundamentals of personal freedom should not police, force or bully their citizens, it is our right, ‘every single persons’ to make informed decisions based on the facts.

    It is not the role of government to protect people from themselves or their ignorance, it is the governments role to inform. If the numbers of immunizations is dropping then its time to run campaigns to better inform the public.

    Forums that allow people to bash each other, rather than open meaningful discussions are not helping. Last time I checked, all parents (well the vast majority) want what is best for their children, so polarizing this argument about who is right or wrong shamefully shifts the focus away from the questions of “Are you acting in the best interest of your children and the wider community?” and “Are you happy with the amount of credible information available to satisfy that you are doing what you can to protect your children?”

    Also, if you want to ‘scientifically’ prove one way or the other, don’t group all of these vaccinations together. Each vaccination is different, it has been engineered for a specific disease or illness and has many different chemicals to keep it stable and benign; for each of these vaccinations there are potential side effects, there is also a level of effectiveness, this is just like any other drug you might purchase for a cold or headache. If you want to badger one group for not generalizing then be careful how you present your points also.

    If you’re completely pro vaccination, at what point between ‘risk of side effect’ and percentage efficacy would you change your mind? I know (from my GP at the time) that some of the older yellow fever shots carried with them a percentage risk of the vaccination escalating into the full virus. It may have been mostly within immuno-compromised patients, but it was significant enough for my GP to mention it. If I am told that an efficacy of 15-20% could be achieved with significant risk of serious side effects, I know I might reconsider.

    As a part time aid worker, I travel to a third world country at least once a year and I choose to keep myself protected through vaccination and immunization; but I investigate, discuss with a GP and weigh up the risks of every single shot, just as I would do for any member of my family. And just as I would recommend anyone else in my position do.

    • Sara E-C August 20, 2013 / 1:11 pm

      Yay! Thank you, Andrew, for this – this is a nuanced, kind response that affords common ground and utterly refrains from hysterical hyperbole.

    • Holly August 20, 2013 / 1:57 pm

      Actually Andrew, I disagree with you on this. Here’s a brief from the CDC:

      The first state law mandating vaccination was enacted in Massachusetts in 1809; in 1855, Massachusetts became the first state to enact a school vaccination requirement. The constitutional basis of vaccination requirements rests in the police power of the state. Nearly 100 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Jacobson v. Massachusetts,33 upholding the right of states to compel vaccination. The Court held that a health regulation requiring smallpox vaccination was a reasonable exercise of the state’s police power that did not violate the liberty rights of individuals under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The police power is the authority reserved to the states by the Constitution and embraces “such reasonable regulations established directly by legislative enactment as will protect the public health and the public safety”…

      …The Court elaborated on the tension between personal freedom and public health inherent in liberty: “The liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis organized society could not exist with safety to its members”

    • Jenny in CO August 20, 2013 / 6:24 pm

      I disagree that the government’s domain is only to inform. And it is a false dichotomy that the opposite position is to protect people from themselves. Instead I believe the purpose of government (in this arena) is to protect people from the OTHER uninformed and irresponsible people who are unaware of the scientific consensus. The theory behind public health is to increase the health of the whole public generally, to protect the commons, not the individuals. (I know that’s a hard concept to swallow in America where individual freedom is king.) Government policies and regulation assume that a significant proportion of the population will be neither educated nor qualified to inform themselves completely and accurately, and therefore government policies ideally rely on the most qualified experts (scientists) to guide those policies and regulations.

      That being said, I know that current policies and regulations are indeed over-informed by corporations and political lobbyists, disproportionate to their scientific, peer-reviewed credentials (lacking). This is definitely a problem to be exposed and solved — I whole-heartedly agree with that criticism. For example, I personally am a little suspicious of the HPV vaccine because its approval and manufacture is tainted by the heavy influence of Merck who makes a profit from this policy. Patent protections are another area which I think could use some major reform with regard to pharmaceutical research, development & production (Merck, also figures in here as well).

    • Diann A August 21, 2013 / 12:22 am

      Yes thank you.

  22. Matt August 20, 2013 / 1:02 pm

    Here is a helpful list of organizations and websites that have weighed in on the purported link between autism and vaccines. . Check it out!

  23. Sara August 20, 2013 / 1:23 pm

    Jessica, Cat: I’m sorry, what are your credentials again? I may only be a student, but including my undergraduate degree in biology with a chemistry minor and emphasis in human generics, as a fourth-year medical student, I have already spent seven years in intensive scientific study (with another five ahead of me). I shudder to think what would happen I we all “took the reigns” from specialists in their field, citing our own unfounded beliefs as legitimate explanations for irrational behavior. I wouldn’t dare presume to know how to fly a plane, so would it make sense for me to insist on being in the pilot’s seat the next time we take our kids to Disney World? It’s so amusing to me that you have “faith” in the science that produced the computer/cell phone you must be using to write your posts, but are somehow suspicious that LESS work went into the discovery/implementation of things we inject into our bodies.
    And Leslie, I can appreciate your concern for schedule/volume of vaccines, but ask that you consider this: although it’s true that we’re poking our kids with more needles than our parents did us, please understand that there are now scarcely over 100 antigens (the things that actually challenge one’s immune system) in our highly specific designer vaccines today than the *thousands* of antigens in the more junked up versions you were likely given as a child. See here: It’s from the American Academy of Pediatrics, if you believe what they have to say on the matter. There’s plenty more where this came from, but believe it or not, most scientific journal articles are not google-able. Again, not just anyone gets to weigh in on things that have such dire consequences.

  24. Pittypat August 20, 2013 / 1:28 pm

    I think car seats cause autism. After all, our parents never used car seats when we were little, and there were fewer people with autism. So, therefore, you shouldn’t put your children in car seats. Same (il)logic as the anit-vac crowd.

  25. Sara August 20, 2013 / 1:34 pm

    Oh blast you, autocorrect. Moderator, et al: emphasis in human genetics, not generics. Ha!

  26. Holly August 20, 2013 / 1:39 pm

    Really enjoyed the post.
    However, a friend of mine brought up a recent study (2012) by Dr. Vijendra K. Singh, Research Association Professor of Neuroimmunology for Utah State University’s Department of Biology that shows links between MMR and Autism. I read a basic brief on a yahoo blog about it, but I haven’t gone into the actual research to see the finer details. Curious what your thoughts are on this?

    Blog Post

    Research Page

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 1:41 pm

      Thanks for calling that to my attention. I’ll check it out ASAP. (which might be a day or two, given the volume of comments I have to moderate + my own work. Argh!). 🙂

    • Shane (@srhudnall) August 20, 2013 / 2:52 pm

      Are you sure that’s recent? If you go to the uk link that it cites, it’s from 2002. Pulling up the actual published study it’s from 2002.

      • Holly August 20, 2013 / 3:21 pm

        I’m actually not sure, which is why I’m asking. There may be research sites that have better details, but I am not able to access those sites. I agree the google search shows 2002, but a blog post was written in 2012. I’m curious if there is more recent research by this Dr. Vijendra K. Singh that is not available to the greater public yet.

        • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 3:28 pm

          Oh, this is fascinating. I just did a PubMed search on Vijendra Singh to get his(?) publication record. I found a letter to the editor of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology in 2006 entitled “Thimerosol is unrelated to autoimmune autism.” Concluding paragraph: “Finally, we would like to draw attention to the
          fact that our study was designed to examine
          fluctuations of MT and antibodies to MT pro-
          teins that might exist in autistic children if the
          exposure to trace amounts of thimerosal from
          vaccines was somehow toxic to these children. It
          was not designed to investigate the toxicity of
          thimerosal-containing ethylmercury in children.
          Nevertheless, the outcome of our retrospective
          study was a negative result and did not support
          the idea that autoimmunity in autistic children
          might be induced by vaccine-derived thimerosal.”

          I definitely will read the paper they’re referring to!

  27. Latch The Babes August 20, 2013 / 1:39 pm

    My issue with this article is that she is assuming that those of us who choose not to vax are doing so because of information that we find on google. She left out the fact that many children have very serious reactions and even die from vaccine injuries. ( is a good example)
    My sons were all vaccinated, my youngest son was hospitalized several times in his first 2 years of life, and every single time was right after vaccinations. I now know that children with asthma should not be vaccinated.
    He turned blue and stopped breathing right in front of me & was admitted into ICU.
    Where was my “doctor who knows more than google university” then?
    He was still ordering vaccines to be given to my child.
    Also, 86% of pertussis cases seen in clinics are from fully vaccinated patients, and current outbreaks of hepatitis is from a lack of universal precautions in the medical field, this is according to the CDC.
    I believe that parents should have the right to choose on either side if the issue & I just really want to carry on with my life without having to constantly hear about how I’m “putting my kids at risk” because I don’t vaccinate.

    “Hepatitis B (total 19 outbreaks, 153 outbreak-associated cases, >10,000 persons notified for screening):

    15 outbreaks occurred in long-term care facilities, with at least 116 outbreak-associated cases of HBV and approximately 1,500 at- risk persons notified for screening
    87% (13/15) of the outbreaks were associated with infection control breaks during assisted monitoring of blood glucose (AMBG)
    4 outbreaks occurred in other settings, one each at: a free dental clinic in school gymnasium, an outpatient oncology clinic, a hospital surgery service, and a pain remediation clinic (one outbreak of both HBV and HCV), with 37 outbreak-associated cases of HBV and > 8,000 persons at-risk persons notified for screening”

    There is ample documentation of MMR vaccine failure, specifically major outbreaks among highly-vaccinated populations. Blame for the outbreaks is usually placed on the unvaccinated portion of the population, however, the largest percentages of those who become ill are usually the ones who are current on their vaccines.

    And finally, just wondering if any of you screaming about how good vaccines are have actually read the contradictions & side effects on the actual vaccine inserts?

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 1:45 pm

      I’m sorry that I gave you that impression. Of COURSE vaccines can have side effects, and can cause adverse reactions in a minority of children who receive them. It is for THOSE kids that I urge others (who don’t experience any adverse effects) to get vaccinated…so they are protected by herd immunity.

    • therealadrinux August 21, 2013 / 9:18 am

      “There is ample documentation of MMR vaccine failure” it’s true that MMR doesn’t give 100% of vaccinated people immunity. For measles 10% are still vulnerable after the first shot and 1% even after the second shot. A similar story for Mumps and Rubella [1].

      That only underlines the importance of population (herd) immunity. There’s that small percentage of the population who either can’t get vaccinated or for whom the vaccine doesn’t work that always going to be at risk. The point is, if you have a chunk of the population wilfully avoiding vaccination on the basis of bad information you lose herd immunity and those vulnerable people who have no choice are at far greater risk than they need to be.

      As for side effects, yes vaccines can have them. But then so can these diseases and the facts suggest that you are far far more likely to suffer these effects (and worse) if you contract the disease than if you get vaccinated [2].

      There’s an excellent summary of the numbers on MMR efficacy in the expert report to the Scottish parliament:
      [1] see section 5.16

      [2] Look at the table in section 5.18 “MMR – serious adverse effects” that weighs up the relative risk of contract the disease vs getting vaccinated.

  28. Sara August 20, 2013 / 1:47 pm

    Finally, I can’t imagine a doctor NOT recommending breast feeding (except maybe for HIV+ moms). As for doctors’ training, I can attest to the fact that the board exam I took *yesterday* specifically asked which source of nutrition is best for a developing neonate, for which I’m certain “breast milk” was the correct answer. Unfortunately, there are always a handful of crazies out there making an entire group of people look bad (Westboro Baptist church, anyone?). Just be careful not to generalize “doctors don’t recommend breast feeding” as your evidence for mistrust of the medical community. Every physician I know of DOES recommend it.

  29. Stephen August 20, 2013 / 3:02 pm

    One of the sleeper vaccines is the annual flu shot. My experience has been that often, within a week or so of getting a flu shot, i get a cold. Well, that’s because shot or no, i get a cold right around the time (December) when i’d get a shot. And the shot was never meant to prevent the cold. Fact is, i seldom actually get the flu. Well, i’ve seldom been in a high risk group. If i were to get a flu shot earlier in the year, i’d be unlikely to get a cold the next week. And if all school kids were to get flu shots, the at-risk people would get fewer cases, and fewer people would die. The at-risk people are seniors. But school kids are the super spreaders. If i got a flu shot, then fewer people where i work would get the flu. If i were an employer, i’d offer flu shots for free. I might even offer a small bonus for those that got them. That’s because it’d be good business. One argument for always getting the flu shots is selfish. When swine flu came around a few years back, it was H1N1. That’s the same flu as the 1918 epidemic that killed millions. But there were people who’d survived 1918, and were still protected. The zillion flu shots you get over your lifetime could protect you in the future. But none of this – proper expectations, who benefits, crowd immunity, etc., are properly communicated to the public. We could be doing better.

  30. Mary August 20, 2013 / 3:52 pm

    Thank you for opening up discussion on this! It apparently is a hot issue especially on facebook. With that being said, I do think it is up to the parents to chose what is best for their children and family. I chose to vaccinate my children because the unproved risk of autism is signifcantly outweighed by the overwhelming decreased risk in contracting illness that actual do kill people, especially young children. Some may argue that we have too many vaccinations or that we didn’t have those growing up and we turned out fine. I think we forget that people actually died of this things not that long ago (like in our parent’s generation). And the reason we don’t hear about them now is because we get vaccinated. Before the 1980s, parents didn’t put babies in carseats and yet they survived. But now we know better and we aren’t willing to take the risk. We strap our little ones into their rear facing seats and keep them in boosters until they’re practically in middle school. Why? Because we could save their lives if something unspeakable happened. Likewise I chose to vaccinate my children to protect them from being exposed to something life threatening. I’m happy that over the decades we know more and can protect our little ones.

  31. Amber Velazco August 20, 2013 / 3:52 pm

    This post makes my stomach turn. When you put forth false information written as “truth” that can alter life and death, I certainly believe blood is on your hands.

  32. Anonymous August 20, 2013 / 4:19 pm

    Great read! Very clear language and full of helpful resources to point parents in the right direction. My colleagues and I in pediatric medicine appreciate this!

  33. Jackie August 20, 2013 / 4:25 pm

    I didn’t read through all the comments, so forgive me if this has already been asked or addressed. Is there any evidence that shows there’s a link to vaccinations and food allergies, particularly peanut allergies. In my cursory research, I found that there was a possible link because the actual vaccine is suspended in peanut oil. As a parent of a child who has food allergies (peanut, eggs, milk, sesame) and with baby #2 on the way, I’m wondering if there’s anything I should/could do differently with vaccines for my next child. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 4:36 pm

      I haven’t reviewed the literature for this question, specifically, so I don’t feel comfortable answering. Maybe one of the pediatricians in this discussion can point you to some resources?

  34. Rebekah Schrepfer August 20, 2013 / 4:28 pm

    Excellent Article! Thanks for posting. The benefits far outweigh the risks when taking vaccines. All of my kids are vaccinated fully and on time, and now I know they won’t be at risk for those terrible diseases. Praise the Lord for scientists and researchers and doctors whose expertise have benefited mankind so much preventing millions diseases and deaths.

  35. iamgozer24 August 20, 2013 / 5:18 pm

    Wow I just saw someone on here cite a Facebook page called “My child’s vaccine reaction” as one of their end all be all references. A page littered with anecdotes and statistics that are easily made up, and driven by a page that is based on absolutely no factual evidence and of course is going to skew anything and everything in their direction. If is trying so desperately to prove that vaccines are poisonous do you honestly and truly believe that they would post any stories that show vaccines are working and saving lives? No because that would destroy the whole point of “conspiracy theory” mentality. Most of you do not see the real truth, which is you function in much the same way as conspiracy theorists trying to prove 9/11 was a grand hoax, latching onto the theory that the governments of the world are conspiring against you with every breath you take which is simply not the case. These so-called “truth” websites are the ones who are brainwashing you and manipulating you by pulling at your heart strings with all these severely skewed and one-sided arguments and statistics. They tug at your emotions with heartbreaking albeit very false, skewed, or sensationalized stories about how someone’s child died from the government pumping them up with all these chemicals and toxins and drugs all the while knowing the side effects and purposely poisoning their children for profit. Yet none of these stories can be found anywhere on the internet except on these lesser known blogs (which are easily faked) and alternative news sites and flat out “conspiracy theory” sites. If I were to tell you this however, you counter with well that’s because the government is conspiring to keep mass media from putting these stories out there because it would of course bring down the entire establishment. I would counter with, do you even begin to comprehend how much money that would take to keep every single reporter at every single major news outlet from reporting on this? You would counter with the government can simply print money at will and give it to whomever whenever they like and hence we enter the never ending cycle of the “conspiracy theory” mentality. I provide a point and you provide a never-ending series of counterpoints no matter how much clear scientific evidence there is to the contrary. The answer to Jennifer’s question I saw on one particular post: “What type (if any) of scientific evidence would you guys need to change your mind?” is unfortunately probably none Jennifer. Sometimes you simply cannot reason with a person who holds on to an ideal so strongly that they will blindly follow it to their doom.

  36. Elisabeth August 20, 2013 / 5:49 pm

    On the autism issue: two major studies just came out linking (to some extent) autism to oxytocin, the drug given for inducements, and to low levels of a thyroid hormone in pregnancy.

    Having lived and married in the develop”ing” world, and having very good friends/family who have polio and other issues including dying from drinking unpasteurized milk, I am deeply skeptical of armchair experts who push theories about vaccinations and a “purer” life. You want to see what “pure” unvaccinated lives look like, forget Malibu — take a trip to a nation much less fortunate and see why people are enthusiastic about inoculations and pretty much every kind of medicine.

  37. SarahR August 20, 2013 / 6:12 pm

    Until about three and a half months ago I was a parent who chose to her children vaccinated but didn’t have a strong opinion on the matter….then my newborn contracted Pertussis. At six weeks we spent over a month in ICU with our baby….an experience I would not wish upon any parent and awful to watch a helpless infant suffer that way as there is really very little that can be done to intervene once the illness has been contracted. As I have been reminded by several health care professionals we are very lucky we are home and recovering as many who contract Pertussis at a young age are not so lucky. I am now a very strong advocate of immunizations for those who are healthy enough ( and lucky enough) to access them.

  38. Krystina August 20, 2013 / 6:25 pm

    I think people need to look away from vaccinations as the cause of autism (because ALL credible scientific evidence proves they do not) and look toward the FOOD SUPPLY as a likely cause. Think about it, 100 years ago there were no Costco emporium type grocery stores that allowed you to buy strawberries year round, picked before they were ripe, and shipped to you from all over the globe. People use to eat what they could grown, bought or traded from other local farmers, bought from small gorceries that got their inventory from local sources etc. There were no GMO’s, no huge amounts of herbacides, pesticides etc. going onto there food etc.. Then fast forward 50 years to the industrial revolution. Processed foods galore, GMO’s everywhere, nobody knows where their food comes from or whats in it. The list of preservatives, potentially harmful chemicals etc.. on the side of so called *food* these days is INSANE.

    • abby hummel August 20, 2013 / 7:50 pm

      Plenty of kids in underdeveloped countries without DuPont/Monsanto/DowAgro crops in their fields are dying not only of vaccine-preventable diseases BUT ALSO STARVATION/MALNUTRITION, too. Guess what? The scientists who create these things also know more about them than the University of Google!

      • abby hummel August 20, 2013 / 7:54 pm

        (I’m talking about old-fashioned crops vs modified crops. I am totally on board with your point when we’re talking about processed foods like microwave popcorn, Lunchables and “Fruit”-by-the-foot, though.)

      • krys August 20, 2013 / 9:00 pm

        Do you honestly think there is a place left on earth that gmo crops haven’t gotten to. On bag of gmo soy beans or corn is delivered to south Asia or sub Saharan Africa by the US relief effort, religious ambassadors etc. Farmers then use those seeds to sow their own. The crops cross pollinate etc. This is why gmo crops are so “dangerous” for lack of a Better word. If they r proven to be harmful in the next 100 years of studying them, there is no way to undo it. We will never again have a gmo free food supply. The food supply is so compromised it is no wonder we are having astronomically high rates of things like autism and days diagnoses in our children

        • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 9:06 pm

          Hi there! I actually have conflicted opinions on GMOs. I’m opposed to Monsanto’s agriculture practices, and exploitation of farmers, but the studies that anti-GMO organizations have produced are really terrible science. Since this post is about vaccines, may I request that we move our discussion of GMOs to the post I did on the subject?
          I think it would be a terrific discussion to have over there.

        • abby hummel August 20, 2013 / 9:08 pm

          You are welcome to earn a PhD in plant genomics and then politely discuss this over coffee with my husband (who is wrapping up his dissertation for a doctorate in that field right now) and his colleagues. Until that happens, please buy whichever foods you choose for your family and follow whatever course of action you deem most helpful to eradicate corrupt dictators and warlords in those third-world countries that are the biggest barrier to safe water, nourishing food, and modern medicine for those people.

      • abby hummel August 20, 2013 / 9:11 pm

        @Jennifer, I didn’t see your reply before I wrote my follow-up, which was directed at the original comment’s author. So sorry to hijack!

        • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 9:13 pm

          No problem at all! I would absolutely love your thoughts on my GMO piece, if you care to share them. It’s another complex issue that I’m trying to review the scientific evidence on. 🙂

      • krys August 20, 2013 / 9:16 pm

        I was just commenting about how the food supply is likely More guilty of causing harm than vaccinations, which is why I commented on This thread to begin with. So sorry, i was not trying to hijack it. And Abby, I too have a master’s in plant genomics…I was not just spouting off uneducated opinions

        • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 9:19 pm

          It’s totally fine, it just occurred to me that we could start a good discussion on that page if you guys wanted 🙂

  39. Emily R August 20, 2013 / 6:39 pm

    As a parent who has chosen not to vaccinate her child (yes, one of those evil people), I appreciate your explanation of the importance of peer-reviewed research, etc. You are quite right. I did not decide against vaccinations for my child because I was afraid of autism. (Mainly I decided against it because my husband had a very serious reaction to a vaccine as a teenager–there is plenty of ‘scientific’ evidence that such instances are not uncommon).

    “Science operates based on the philosophy that the truth is knowable if we design experiments correctly, and we do enough of them to rigorously test our hypotheses.” This is true. But scientists have to ask the right question to actually discover something of meaning to the issue at hand. And finding the right question can be very difficult. Thus, simply because “science has not discovered any link between vaccines and such and such terrible ailment…” I still am not convinced that vaccines are safe or necessary.

    Consider antibiotics. A miracle. I am thankful for them. However, ‘science’ is only just now realizing (asking the questions that lead to the research that reveals meaningful information about antibiotics and human health) that using antibiotics willy-nilly for any old infection is probably a really bad idea. (And not all MD’s seem to realize this as many are still prescribing antibiotics willy-nilly… one reason I do not simply accept Dr.’s orders without doing my own research.) So we at least know that ‘science’ can have a really steep learning curve. (There are plenty of other examples of this.) If we’re not dealing with an acute health problem, I would rather not have myself or my kids screwed by that learning curve.

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 8:09 pm

      This appears to have been submitted four years ago, with zero effect. It’s a document addressed TO the prosecutor’s office, not FROM the prosecutor’s office. It appears to be a petition for criminal charges, on the part of anti-vax groups. Did the prosecutor actually file charges, as you claim?

      I’ll just excerpt a few choice quotes for anyone who is curious about whether this is a legitimate complaint:

      “Microscopic living organisms, harmless, being since millions of years in good-neighbourly friendship associated with their respective host-animal, are brought together by the physicians with alien organisms, in the laboratories forced to copulate, to cross-bred medicartificially (swine + hen + rat + bird + …). The outcome? A new vaccine, for instance, which, in its composition, is indistinguishable from a biologic bomb.”


      “During the Spanish flu all those survived who had refused any vaccination. Those who kept the cause of death: the medical doctor at distance, did not suffer any harm. They all survived, without any damages.”

      • Paciente de Frente August 20, 2013 / 8:55 pm

        I strongly recommend you to read carefully the site before calling PF/SPK(H) a “group”, and to find the answers to your questions:

      • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 9:02 pm

        What would you call the “Patients’ Front/Socialist Patients’ Collective”, other than a group?
        As nearly as I can tell, this is an organization that rejects the germ theory of disease based on socialist principles. Am I wrong? I understand that something might be missing in translation (I don’t read German).

        “The way out of torture is paved with broken doctors.” Please explain what this means.

  40. Anonymous August 20, 2013 / 7:43 pm

    It is so sad that people continue to call others names because they may feel differently or are on the other side of the issue than themselves. Most people have extremely strong feelings regarding this subject regardless of the side and their minds won’t be changed. Parents who vaccinate their children love their children and want what’s best for them, parents who don’t vaccinate their children love their children and want what’s best for them.

    I would like to know where this idea came from that if you are unvaccinated you are somehow some germ and disease carrying or spreading individual? Wouldn’t you have to actually contract the disease in order to spread it? Many of these diseases were already on the decline as the vaccinations were introduced. Could the actual decline of these diseases be due more to naturally built up immunity in the community, better sanitation, better health etc. and not only the vaccines? Why don’t people acknowledge the fact that children are injured and do die from vaccines regardless of it being “a small percentage” of individuals? Does a life mean less if taken from a vaccine then the actual disease? If a parent is educated and informed to the risks and benefits from both sides and decides to not vaccinate that is their choice and the best for their family just as the parent who decides to vaccinate based on the same information.

    • Diann A August 21, 2013 / 12:38 am


    • therealadrinux August 21, 2013 / 9:35 am

      Side effects yes, but which vaccines kill children? The ‘side effects’ of contracting the disease are a far greater risk to health than getting vaccinated. Life is a risky business, you can’t avoid risk entirely. See for a summary of the numbers with regards to MMR.

      The issue is that a ‘choice’ as a parent not to vaccinate impacts on those who can’t vaccinate or for whom the vaccine doesn’t work. Herd immunity is important. This is why the issue is so contentious. In effect not vaccinating is a type of antisocial behaviour. It’s somewhat selfish.

  41. Ab August 20, 2013 / 8:51 pm

    I really like the article. Helpful.

    What I, wanted if I had had kids, was to have the vaccines but not all bunched up together. Not opposed at all to this, I just didn’t like the idea of so much all at one time in a series. So what if it meant I spent a lot time in a doctor’s office? I felt the bunching was for convenience.

  42. commonsense636 August 20, 2013 / 9:20 pm

    You are not an expert on vaccine ingredients/adjuvants, epidemiology, nor are you a physician. Furthermore, many physicians like Christianne Northrop, M.D., a nationally well regarded physician has spoken against vaccines like the HPV vaccine. What you have done with this blog post appears highly irresponsible, and could cause severe damage (if naive parents are reading this, and that’s what you seem to be banking on) to children who may be susceptible to underlying medical disorders which make them prone to vaccine injury, encephalopathy, brain damage and Autism. Shame on you.

    Vaccines don’t cause Autism, except when they do, and sadly there are 1 in 50 children walking around with severe vaccine damage, and other horrific medical conditions, such as severe bowel disease and cry in agonizing pain, and that number adds up to over one and a half million kids. These children do not get enough nutrients because they can’t eat. They don’t sleep well. They have horrible rashes on their bodies, severe allergies to food…and you pat yourself on the back for this stupid irresponsible piece of rubbish you call a blog?

    But clearly since you seem to worship the temple of Penn and Teller, who also know absolutely nothing about Autism, vaccines/ingredients, adjuvants and epidemiology, you will undoubtedly continue on your useless tirade in favor of all things which potentially harm our kids, and that go conveniently unnoticed by the mainstream medical community. With respect to polio, are you aware that since the push for the polio vaccine in India, over the last two years more than 48,000 children have been stricken with a more severe paralysis than polio and twice as deadly? If you had bothered, you could have read all about it inside the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics.

    Click to access Puliyel%202013.pdf

    Strange how you did not mention this fact. It is also listed on the WHO website under cases of AFP post vaccination. Stick to ancient peoples because your writing is of no use to our future people…our kids. Quite frankly, our children should fear people like you.

    • Jennifer Raff August 20, 2013 / 10:34 pm

      I am not a physician, but I am a scientist. Unlike Christiane Northrup, I don’t look to angels, tarot cards, or astrology for answers to medical questions. You probably should read more carefully, if you think that the Penn & Teller clip forms the entire basis for my post. I have provided multiple peer-review studies, in accordance with the best practices of reporting on scientific research, as well as in agreement with the consensus of the scientific and medical communities, to back up what I have written in my “piece of rubbish.”

      Is that irresponsible? Or is it more irresponsible of you to throw out statements like “Vaccines don’t cause Autism, except when they do, and sadly there are 1 in 50 children walking around with severe vaccine damage” without citing any evidence?

      1 in 50…really??? That is quite a high number. So we can compare datasets, what exactly is your definition of “severe vaccine damage”, and which geographic region (the United States?) are we discussing?

      My focus in this post was on the putative causal relationship between MMR and autism, not polio, but I certainly am glad you pointed me in the direction of that editorial. It seems like a very tragic situation, and I would appreciate any additional articles you might have on the subject. For example, I can’t find the WHO’s investigative report on Puliyel’s allegations (though I have seen it mentioned in third sources). Do you have a link to that you could send me? You can reach me at

      You certainly speak eloquently about my lack of qualifications. Are you a scientist or an MD? Your reliance on an MD who supplements her practice with tarot ( makes me wonder. I’ve posted my CV for anyone to find and judge for themselves whether I’m adequately educated to speak about scientific research….are you willing to post yours?

      • iamgozer24 August 21, 2013 / 4:56 am

        That’s actually the same stat someone threw at me on Facebook Jennifer, it seems to be stemming from news reports from multiple reputable sources earlier this year that up to 1 in 50 schoolchildren have a diagnosed case ASD. People who then associate vaccines with the cause of the rise in ASD cases simply use the stat interchangeably with vaccine damage. Which brings us back to the same question in the end of what proof do anti-vaxers have to make this correlation? The answer is none of course, but when people start dropping stats it makes them sound more intelligent, more credible right?

  43. immunologist August 20, 2013 / 9:27 pm

    I am a mom, hold a doctorate in neuroimmunology and work for a major pharma company.
    I am very careful about everything that I put in my child’s body I double check food labels, buy organic, and makes sure shampoos, body washes and babble baths carry the bare minimum of ingredients. I even buy a certain brand of imported water because of BPA-free bottles. I believe vaccines are very important and my child has gone through all the vaccination cycles and quite frankly I have been vigilent and worried everytime we came back from the well visits. The reason for that is not because of the endless forums on the web of parents saying their kids changed overnight after their shots but for another reason and crucial piece of information that your article has failed to mention: There is simply a major difference in the way our kids are being vaccinated today compared to us a few decades ago. That difference is the number of shots given at one time and also the number of pathogens within single vaccines. Now vaccine manufacturers make pentavalent + vaccines packing as many pathogens in one to save money on the manufacturing costs, and the peds give 2-3 shots in one office visit. The problem with this new vaccination schedule is that we are challenging our childrens immune system beyond what they are made to handle. Our immune system is used to seeing one or two pathogens at a time not ten or tewlve
    so it goes in overdrive and attacking own tissues (central nervous system autoimmunity)
    most children probably stabilize after vaccines however those who are already prone to inflammatory and autoimmune responses may be at risk for developing autism and other CNS disorders. I think all of us should take in consideration complaints from thousands of parents who claim vaccines caused their child to be autistic. The solution would be not to just decide to stop vaccination and putting the lives of children in jeopardy but to carefully evaluate what we are doing different and wrong with the new vaccination methds. FDa and NIH should carefully evaluate the risks of challenging the immune system with too many pathogens at once, and potentially come upnwith screening strategies and chriteria for excluding children prone to autoimmune disease (ie asthma, gi track inflammation etc)

    • Diann A August 21, 2013 / 12:43 am

      Much appreciated

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